Of course the best way to waterproof any below-grade assembly is from the exterior—but what works if you have to go from the interior?

by Peter Yost

Negative-side waterproofing (NSW) is a tough topic that I have frankly been dancing around for quite some time. Manufacturer claims and homeowner anecdotes of successful interior waterproof solutions for basement walls and slabs did not completely add up. But I did not think that I understood the topic or the physics well enough to challenge the claims or explain my skepticism.

What I learned from the University of Wisconsin's “Commissioning Building Enclosure Assemblies and Systems” course

by Peter Yost

I have been advising architects and builders on high-performance design, materials, and construction — particularly for residential buildings — for many years. But to do this work on commercial buildings, a building science training and credentialing program seemed really important (yet elusive).

Where did the water and blue-green staining on this fireplace support column come from?

by Peter Yost

A new client called me, saying that his insulation contractor urged him to contact me about some moisture problems in the home before they actually embarked on a major energy upgrade. (That was gratifying.) Many years ago the home had been moved off of a failing rubble foundation to a new concrete masonry unit (CMU) foundation on a different site.

TEC did its homework: its new blower door package is a well-engineered and integrated equipment system

by Peter Yost

I don’t do blower door work every day, but I do enough of it to appreciate the attention to detail that The Energy Conservatory (TEC) built into its new blower door kit. I have used both TEC and Retrotec blower door kits and found them trustworthy and rugged.

We asked sustainability professionals what message they would put on a billboard. Here’s what we heard.

“If you could put one simple message on a billboard, what would it say?” During the recent BuildingEnergy conference in Boston, BuildingGreen set up a camera at our booth and asked sustainable design and building professionals this question.

Our interviewees ranged from a professor of sustainable design, to a sustainability manager at an architecture firm, to a green home builder, to a creator of an online green building directory.

Humidity sensor recommendations for building professionals and homeowners

by Peter Yost

Author’s Note: I can’t even start this blog before thanking Lew Harriman of Mason-Grant Consulting. Lew very patiently and gently hammered me into a much better understanding of humidity in air and its measurement. While any errors or lack of clarity regarding humidity and its measurement are mine, much of the insight and many of the resources mentioned here are Lew’s.

A simple PC-executable file can be used to understand the relationship between stack effect and mechanical ventilation

by Peter Yost

In 2003, as part of their presentation (“Ventilation Myths and Misconceptions”) at the Affordable Comfort conference, Collin Olson and Paul Francisco debuted a software tool they developed called SEE STACK. (If you want to experiment with the software, you can safely click here to download the virus-free executable file and training manual from The Energy Conservatory).

Where the oft-quoted statistic comes from, and what the underlying study says about health in buildings

Given the intense interest in the architectural community on health and wellness inside buildings, and in the related WELL building standard, you’ve probably heard someone tell you recently that we spend 90% of our time indoors.

The easiest way to get a building science puzzle wrong is to “solve” it without all the pieces. Take your time and listen to my wife—just like I do.

by Peter Yost

Just about every week, I get a call or an email that turns into a building science puzzle. While the problems are varied, how you solve them doesn’t change. First, you understand how heat and moisture move through building assemblies. Second, you follow the advice of your spouse.

The concept of the net zero energy (NZE) is a mature one, with established technology providing a clear path, especially for low- and mid-rise buildings.

by Joshua Radoff

A few years ago, the chances that a new building project would pursue net-zero-energy (NZE) use were pretty slim. But in the last year or so, the concept of NZE has rapidly matured, and more and more projects are using it as a goal. So, what made this possible? And should you be considering NZE for your next project?

The WELL Building Standard has stringent transparency and health criteria for products and materials. Here’s how to find what you’ll need for certification.

by Nadav Malin

As a standard that seeks to promote occupant health, WELL requires project teams to use clean and green products to get with the program.

Test your knowledge of insulation, building assemblies, toxic chemicals, radiant barriers, and insulation alternatives.

Think you know everything there is to know about green, high-performance insulation products and practices? Let’s find out! The answer key—and articles to learn more—are at the bottom of the page.

1) BuildingGreen doesn’t recommend radiant barrier products. Why not?

We took the best PSA tapes from our last round of testing and worked them over on rough OSB and window flanges. One tape worked no matter what.

by Peter Yost

Flashing tapes are critical to many if not most wall assemblies that are currently being built. Therefore the durability of these pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tapes is critical to the durability of those assemblies. So it may come as a surprise that no one really knows how long they last.

Biomimicry experts explore resilient design from environmental, social, and economic perspectives.

by Allyson Wendt
Biomimicry experts explore resilient design from environmental, social, and economic perspectives.Photo courtesy Verdical Group

Could imitating nature help us survive climate change?

You and your boss don’t really collaborate. Neither do you and your employee, or you and your supplier.

You might work collaboratively, but ultimately one of you has power and authority over the other. Real, substantive collaboration—getting people to cooperate without power and authority—takes a lot of work, and so you only want to collaborate on challenges that need it.